Woman holding clemastine - illustrating over-the-counter hay fever drug shows remyelination promise on MRI

Over-the-counter hay fever drug shows remyelination promise on MRI

Scientists have shown that over-the-counter antihistamine clemastine has the ability to repair myelin damage from multiple sclerosis (MS) on an MRI scan.

The researchers said this is the first time brain repair has been documented on an MRI scan for a chronic neurological condition.

The non-invasive MRI method more accurately reflects the repair of myelin that other methods.

The study was placebo-controlled and looked at data from 50 adults who took part in the Phase 2 ReBUILD trial. They had relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and were on immune-modulating disease-modifying therapies.

The results showed the clemastine helped speed up the electrical signals travelling along the optic nerve connecting the eyes and brain.

The findings were modest and the drug does come with undesirable side-effects such as drowsiness. “Clemastine can only be partially effective at the doses we can use,” said the researchers. “It can be sedating, which may be especially undesirable in patients with MS,” Green said. “We are hopeful better medications will be developed, but clemastine has proven to be the tool to show remyelination is possible.”